A small family-owned business near Turangi has been robbed of more than $200,000 worth of Manuka honey.
Sam Walmsley and her partner Kyle Hall work tirelessly making honey, mainly for export, while juggling other day jobs and looking after their two young kids.
On Monday morning, they were "devastated" to find somewhere between 200 to 250 full-depth boxes of honey were missing from their beehives.
There would have been about 25-30kg of honey in each box and each kilo is worth $30.
"They have gone through and taken all the best ones," Walmsley said.
"They have loaded up as much as they could, and then they have got out of there as quick as lightning."
There was a feeling of desperation about trying to find it, she said, as it represented a year's salary that would help pay the mortgage and keep the business going.
"It takes a big toll on you.
"It's been really hard the past couple of years because it has been really hard to sell honey - every beekeeper knows this."
The testing requirements had changed and some of the bigger companies were just buying from a couple of beekeepers, she said.
"You can sell it but it's going very slowly, it's not like it used to be."
Walmsley has been looking after bees for about 10 years, inheriting the knack from her dad who recently retired.
"We worked so hard to pay for it, to get to this stage," she said.
"Beekeepers work non-stop. It's very hard labour. You have to be strong and fit to do it."
And the hours could also be challenging as bees can only be moved at night when they go to sleep.
Walmsley hoped people in the area would come forward if they knew anything about the theft.
Police said they had received the report about the theft on February 3.
"Police are currently conducting enquiries and awaiting forensic results. No further updates are available."